Street Racing Bust: The Fast And Furious Get Unexpected Redlight
Posted by: Matt McKinney Created: 11/23/2008 3:11:20 PM Updated: 11/23/2008 5:29:31 PM
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High Point, NC-- After a two month investigaton into illegal street racing in Forsyth and Guilford Counties, NC Highway Patrol started "Operation DRIFT" which stands for Don't Race In Front Of Troopers.
The operation started after months of complaints and tips about racing on US Highway 311 in Forsyth and Guilford Counties and Main Street in High Point.
Saturday night and well into Sunday morning Troopers along with other law enforcement agencies started the crackdown on the illegal activity. So far, they've served 45 warrants and seized 12 vehicles.
Troopers will continue serving warrants next week. They also plan to seize 20 more vehicles. They had a total of 72 warrants and expect to serve them all.
People charged with street racing face conviction of a class 1 misdemeanor and could lose their driver's license for 3 years.
Troopers are continuing the investigation into illegal street racing and working with confidential informants and anticipate additional charges soon.
Highway patrol stress that street racing isn't only illegal it is dangerous and puts lives at risk.
Operation DRIFT Results so far:
Chevrolet Trail Blazer
Some of the vehicles have been modified for racing and are valued from $5000 up to $150,000.
Charges issue are:
stop sign violations
improper use of registration plate
Other law enforcement agencies involved include: Guilford County Sheriff Dept. and NC Alcohol Law Enforcement.
Background on Operation DRIFT:
High Point, NC -- In Detroit, a car accident kills a 55-year-old woman. In Las Vegas, a truck flips killing a 15-year-old girl. While in San Antonio, a 20-year-old man dies in a high-speed car crash.
All these accidents have something in common, but not what you think. Police say all of these people died due to street racing.
"It has reached epidemic propotions," Lt. Keith Stone from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
North Carolina Highway Patrol has been running Operation DRIFT which stands for "Don't Race In Front of Troopers".
Sgt. Rodney Robles of the Highway Patrol says their goal is to break-up illegal street racing in Guilford and Forsyth counties. Their concentration is High Point.
For several weeks, undercover troopers have infiltrated illegal street racing groups. These races would happen on the interstates like US 311 and local roads like Main Street in High Point. Racing groups would even stop traffic on highways to set up for a race. Undercover troopers say they did this on US 311 and then race for a mile or more.
"They are racing for money, fame, or racing to race," says Lt. Keith Stone of the Highway Patrol.
"They don't like tracks because DOT does a better job of maintaining roads," says one undercover trooper. "At times, they reach speeds of up to 140, 150 mph when racing."
If you think it's just the highways, "They would speed 80, 90 mph down Main Street in High Point," ignoring traffic lights says Lt. Stone.
Undercover troopers went to parties, drag strips and hung out at local hot spots such as Wal-Mart, Cook Out and Pizza Hut, to infiltrate the racing groups. They would meet every Friday or
Saturday night and hang out or race anywhere form 8pm to 1am.
The people involved are mostly young white middle class males, many high school drop outs. Many of them have jobs where every penny goes into the cars. Nothing else is important.
Highway troopers along with deputies from the Guilford County Sheriff office began to execute their plan to arrest 31 people, seize their vehicles and charging them with 129 counts.
One of the problems with these type of cases is that law enforcement must prove it was a pre-arranged speed competition. Most cases, people are charged with a spontaneous speed competition. This doesn't allow authorities to seize the vehicles. So troopers had to go undercover to learn and show was is a pre-arranged race. Racers use cell phones, texting, even hand signals as a sign it's a "go." Troopers feel the only way to put an end to this is by taking their vehicles.
Authorities say seizing the cars is the hard part and that's why they need to charge individuals with a pre-arranged speed competition. Once the car is impounded, a driver will have to be double the bond to get the car back. For instance, if the car is worth $30,000, the driver will have to pay $60,000 to get it back.
If convicted, the driver not only loses their license for 3 years, their insurance, but also their ride. The car is then sold off by local authorities.
This is not the first time troopers had to work undercover to break up these street racing groups. Previously, they performed similar operations in Halifax, Pitt and Edgecombe counties, and even made 30 arrests in Raleigh.
Drivers are not the only people in trouble. Bystanders can be charged with disorderly conduct by attending an unlawful event or aiding and abetting an illegal speed competition.
WFMY News 2